The deadline for adopting the Globally Harmonized System method of classifying and labeling hazardous chemicals has now passed. This means your company should only be using this new chemical safety system to maintain OSHA and GHS compliance.
What does this mean going forward? Recent information from OSHA suggests that the organization plans to review its current HazCom Standard with the possibility of future updates and additional regulations.
GHS and HazCom
There is a lot more to safety compliance today than just having the right EHS program in place. The gradual change from OSHA standards to GHS standards has highlighted the importance of hazard communication in the workplace and implementing current HazCom Standards to maintain safety compliance.
This is especially significant as continual changes to the HazCom policy is likely. Progressing with any future chemical safety regulations requires your company to already be in compliance with the new regulations.
Establishing Updated HazCom Program
By now, your company should have an appropriate HazCom program in place and be focused on continually training employees on the new Globally Harmonized System. Your hazard safety program should include the following points to ensure proper chemical management and employee training:
- Chemical Inventory - The basis of your safety program should begin with teaching all employees what chemicals are being used at your facility and where they are located. In addition to the location of these substances, you must have all corresponding, updated SDS sheets and a system in place to manage them.
- Updated Safety Labels - All manufacturer-shipped chemical containers should now be labeled according to the new GHS labeling system. Previous OSHA labels should be replaced with the current 6 point safety labels that include product identifier information, signal words, hazard and precautionary information, hazard pictograms, and supplier information. Secondary containers used in the workplace may still have labels according to older OSHA standards as long as they are compliant with current safety regulations.
- Training Program - To be able to continually provide essential instructions on current and developing safety compliance, it is suggested you have a HazCom training program in place. Regular safety training has been instrumental in preparing employees for the adoption of new safety policies and remaining compliant with continually changing company and OSHA chemical safety rules.
Looking to the Future
Now that the Globally Harmonized System is underway, after a long lead-in period, it is important to evaluate the three points mentioned above to determine your company’s level of compliance and readiness for additional changes. One of the best ways to do this is by assigning a safety transition position to an employee well versed in both the former OSHA and new GHS systems. In addition to helping ensure compliance with the current system, this individual would be able to facilitate future regulatory changes.
Adoption of the Globally Harmonized System has required a big effort on the part of all companies required to comply. Yet it is important to understand that in all likelihood, the full implementation of this program is not the end of OSHA’s changes to current HazCom Standards.